Electronic Footprints in the Sand

Beach picture

How can we use technology to help victims of domestic violence and abusive relationships to find help?

While technology has opened up all new channels of communication, it is also used to exert control and to spy on partners and family members. US Department of Justice statistics state that 30.3% of the 2.4 million victims of cyber-stalking in the country were stalked by a current or ex-partner. These cases have been known to include hi-tech methods such as webcams, GPS and listening devices.

Electronic Footprints in the Sand is a project run in partnership with the Angelou Centre,  a Newcastle-based support centre for black and ethnic minority women. The project looks at technologies that can help victims to seek assistance discretely, and to delete or hide evidence of internet activity to thwart spying.

Prototypes include:

A “cleaner” app that can be used to erase records of texts, calls and internet searches involving domestic violence support groups, thus hiding certain activity without suspiciously erasing the entire search history

An adapted system which allows those who suffer from domestic violence to discretely contact friends, neighbours or support staff when they feel threatened. The system is activated with an innocuous phone gesture, such as holding down the “volume down” button for a few seconds.

Flyers or cards featuring QR Codes, which send someone to a domestic violence support site when they are first scanned, but re-direct to an innocuous webpage on all subsequent scans.


Contact Us

Aad van Moorsel (aad.vanmoorsel@ncl.ac.uk)

Emms M, Arief B, van Moorsel A. Electronic Footprints in the Sand: Technologies for Assisting Domestic Violence Survivors. In: Annual Privacy Forum 2012. 2012, Limassol, Cyprus.